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Ted Lasso's Rebecca-Sam relationship ducks accountability

  • "To a certain extent, the show’s inclination to see only the best in this courtship is in keeping with what’s most appealing about Ted Lasso," says Alyssa Rosenberg in tackling the relationship between Hannah Waddingham's and Toheeb Jimoh's characters. "Sam is an appealing alternative to the selfish vision of masculinity embodied by Rebecca’s ex-husband: He’s principled, emotionally open and courtly. Rebecca’s arc has long been about freeing herself from the emotional damage inflicted by her marriage and reopening herself to authentic relationships. That pattern holds true even in the latest episode of Ted Lasso, in which Rebecca tells Sam they need to take a break so she can work on herself. But the portrayal of the relationship also ducks another key Ted Lasso value: accountability. The show’s cheerfully willful blindness has been even clearer since Rebecca and Sam started dating. The actors who play the characters have terrific chemistry, and the inclination to root for them to be happy is natural. But that doesn’t erase the possible consequences of their liaison — or the potential for abuse to occur within it. Rebecca is a woman, but her gender doesn’t eliminate her power over Sam, or the possibility that her feelings for and about him might have a spillover effect on the club. What happens if they break up for good and Sam’s disappointment dents his performance — or Rebecca retaliates against him? And even if the relationship does work out, it puts everyone in an awful professional position: Ted, who might feel unable to bench Sam if he slumps; Sam, who won’t know if any opportunities he gets are truly earned; and Rebecca, whose decision-making about Sam’s future contract will inevitably be tainted. The fact that the highest ranks of government and the corporate world are so thoroughly dominated by men, both in the United States and Britain, may lead some to think of sexual harassment and abuse of power as exclusively male problems. But it would show greater respect for Rebecca as a character, and as a businesswoman, to acknowledge the potential for her to do harm even while meaning well."


    • How much do Ted Lasso fans really know about Toheeb Jimoh's Sam Obisanya?: "Roy and Sam are the few subjects upon which many people agree," says Melanie McFarland. "Contrasting those two, however, highlights the relative paucity of Sam's character development. There are justifiable reasons for this that anyone can read on the series call sheet: Roy has been a major character since Season 1, and Brett Goldstein, who plays him, is also a writer on the show. Only one other character who is a player on the Richmond team, striker Jamie Tartt, is part of that rank. Sam is a recurring figure who proved such an effective foil to Jamie that they bumped up his prominence in Season 2. And the man who makes the player so seductive, Toheeb Jimoh, imbues him with a divine blend of gentlemanly grace and a burgeoning youthful confidence. ow, based on all of these descriptions one may be led to think Sam's character has been quite extensively developed. But most of what I've written has been mentioned by others in conversation or gleaned from close viewings of Sam exchanging texts or phone calls with his dad. It's only slightly more detail than the type of trivia one might find on a dating app like Bantr, inviting us to assign all types of fantasy assumptions that haven't borne out in the script. But the difference between hanging charming details around a character's neck and writing layers into his personality that expand him from a minor role to a major one is the difference between knowing someone's address – which we do, courtesy of the eighth's episode's close – and spending time with them, in their space. Ten episodes into the second season we've yet to do the latter or fundamentally know anything substantial about Sam beyond the playlists and reading material we'd encounter on his iPad, and how he behaves in the moment."
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    TOPICS: Hannah Waddingham, Apple TV+, Ted Lasso, Toheeb Jimoh